Pioneer, Nature & Wildlife Poetry

Pioneer, Nature & Wildlife Poetry

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I hope you will enjoy the pioneer, Nature and Wildlife poetry I have written and posted below.


They Take It Out On Me!

Dad blame it! I been cooking
all day long and you gripe
It don’t got enough salt or
the biscuits are too hard

Hell! I been on the trail just
as long as you ornery men
I got dust in my mouth, same
as you and I ain’t complaining

I hear ya flapping like the wind
across the range in august
Cookie ain’t fit to be our cook
but ya sure wolf down me vittles

Well, I didn’t have to come on this
cattle drive, no sir I didn’t
I sleep on a bed roll on the ground
just like all you cowpokes

But I’ll tell ya this, and you can bet
a full month’s wages on it
When we get to Dodge City and get
paid I’ll be wetting my whistle first!

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


We’re Ready To Leave Missouri

After three days of packing and
re-packing, we’re ready
The wife is scared for we’re
leaving so much behind

We’ll be following thousand’s
of other’s headed out west
On foot, in wagons and buggy’s
or just riding on a horse

Many are carrying everything they
can headed for The Oregon Trail
Some wagons are so overloaded
you know their horses won’t make it

My brother Robert is coming with us
and I’m glad he’s good with a gun
We have heard that the Indian’s have
attacked settler’s and wagon trains

We must make 15 miles a day the
wagon master has told us
We’ll freeze to death in the mountains
he says, and my wife looks worried

We must make it to Oregon because
the government has promised us land
160 acres of good farming land, land to
grow crops and raise a family on

Abundant wildlife and water, that’s more
than I can offer my family here
If we can avoid the Indian’s and Cholera
and a broken wheel, we’ll make it!

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)

It Was A Disappointment

After three months traveling on a
dry Rutted prairie dust bowl road
We finally saw up in the distance
a homestead of some sorts

We craved human contact and the
wife, a resemblance of a warm bath
It would be a great relief if they could
spare some water and a few stores

Our water barrel was getting low
much too low not to worry
But our excitement soon turned to
despair as reality sunk in

Regardless of why these folks had
not stayed on, they were gone
Nothing much remained of this old
homestead as we looked down

The promise of lush valleys, gold
abundant water in California
Seemed to be empty promises as
I tried to comfort my wife

Everything we owned was in this
covered wagon, packed with love
What good was a dream if we were
to die along this rutted dirt trail?

I turned to you and wiped your tears
and promised we’d make it
“There has to be a stage line or a fort
up ahead somewhere.” I whispered

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)

Listen Up Pilgrim!

Listen up pilgrim, I’m gonna tell
ya this and I tell ya it’s true
Out west, the government’s giving
ya 160 acres of land free and clear

Thousands of families, even some
of yer kinfolk have already left
Traveling on the Oregon Trail or to
the gold fields of California

Ya can farm fertile valleys in Oregon
raise cattle, or grow crops
They’re building town’s and pushing the
railroad as fast as they can

Sure it is a hard journey, too hard for some
can’t you feel it in the air?
Folks can see that out west, they can have
a spread of their own, free and clear

You folks know me well, I’ve always told
ya the truth and this I tell you now
This is the time my friend’s to make 1862
be the year that goes down in history

Look around you, can’t you see it in the
people’s eyes as they wave goodbye?
Why I have never seen so many covered
wagons leaving for the west, before

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


We’re Leaving For California!

The bank closed the sale on
our house in Independence
I pushed my way thru the crowd
and up to the counter

Amos Standler handed me the
list of all the supplies I’d need
It was a might long list I told him
as I looked it over twice

For a family of four it said I needed
200 lbs. of flour, 150 lbs. of bacon
10 lbs. of coffee, 20 lbs. of sugar and
10 lbs. of salt and the list went on

Of course I’d be needing a covered
wagon and a 50 gallon water barrel
I had already looked at a covered wagon
and it wasn’t going to haul a lot

Amos warned me not to pack more than
a ton or I’d break an axel
It would be a tough call for me and Emily
to choose what had to stay behind

West of town, hundreds of families were
waiting for the go ahead
They knew that as soon as the Trail was
passable, that they were headed west

As I looked out the store window, I saw
greenhorn’s try to steer their oxen
Trying to go right, and going left instead
as tempers began to flare

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)

So Many People Have Died!

As I take my family across
the plains of Kansas
Following the well worn ruts
of past covered wagon’s

Time and again we pass by
the graves of those before us
They believed in the dreams
we hold onto tightly

My wife is sick and I pray
that it isn’t Cholera
We can’t turn back, we sold
everything, we must go on

I wish I could find water, see
a tree line, another wagon
A family doing better than us
as the dust begins to blow

We stopped at a grave site
and spoke from the bible
Before climbing back up to
try to make 15 miles a day

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


The Town That Died

Our wagon train turned southwest
as the wagon master waved us on
We were told at breakfast that of a
town called Jacksonville

It would be four miles out of our way
but we could get supplies there
Feed for cattle and horses as well as
Re-filling our water barrels

But when we reached the outskirts
our excitement turned to despair
The town or what was left of it
was overgrown and abandoned

There was a sign warning everyone
to turn back and keep out
Cholera was painted in large red
letters and fear filled our eyes

How terrible that a bustling town
could become a ghost town
The wagon master rode to the
lead wagon to be turned around

To the left was a huge cemetery, a
sign of the lives that were lost
One by one we circled, making our
way back to the Oregon trail

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved) 


An Unbelievable Sight!

When our covered wagon reached
the top of the hill
I pulled back the reins and just sat
there in total amazement

Ahead of us, well there must have
been at least a thousand wagons
Everyone must be headed for the
Oregon Trail I told my wife

Her eyes sparkled with excitement
as did out three little one’s
Pushing between us to get a peek
and at why we had stopped

There were wagons of every shape
and size, as well as buggy’s too
There were some folks headed west
to set up shops to sell goods

There were people walking cows or on
foot and those on horses
Some carried all their worldly possessions
while other’s had nothing but a dream

There were rows and rows of wagons
and tempers flared a might
I guess some were impatient or felt that
someone had cut them off

They say to beat the snows, we have to
make 15 miles a day, rain or shine
We chose not to pay to join a wagon train
figuring to follow from behind

That way, we wouldn’t get lost and maybe
make it through Indian territory
For out west, on a dusty, rutted trail is no
place a family wants to find themselves lost

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


The North Dakota Homesteader’s

My ancestor’s immigrated to
Slope County, North Dakota
Known as “Sod Buster’s”, they
endured harsh times in 1869

The government offered thru
the Homestead Act, free land
They made their home in the
flat, rich Red River Valley

With the coming of the train
small towns sprouted up
Tiny farms dotted the grass
lands virtually absent of trees

The winds were incessant and
farmer’s had to plant trees
This land became a patch work
quilt of many nationalities

Families were large and even
the young pitched in to help
The winter’s were cruel and I
can’t imagine their sufferings

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)

As I Left The Outhouse

The time was 3:20 AM when I left
the cabin, to go to the outhouse
Brrrr, it was chilly as I closed the
door to take care of business

When you live this far in the woods
you appreciate indoor plumbing
Once done, I picked up my oil lamp
and headed back to the cabin

It was then that the snap of a twig
made me stop and shine my light
That’s when the black bear stopped
and stared back at me

My heart was racing and I knew that
I should not begin to run
Because I would be chased and caught
just as it would catch a deer

The bear wasn’t full grown, nor looked
to be starving as I walked slowly away
Doing my best to see the ground so I
wouldn’t trip as I watched the bear

Normally bear don’t come around here
I guess he was just passing through
For as I reached the door and turned
the knob I saw he was already gone

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


On The Run!

I was pulling a sled of firewood
through the snow one morning
When I heard the sounds of a
something running fast

I scanned the meadow below me
and I saw nature play its role
A lone male wolf was pursuing
a large whitetail buck

Both were large, both were in
perfect health, both strong
But in the wilderness here, a
balance is kept by nature

For with each hunt, there is no
guarantee it will end in a meal
This morning would reveal to me
the life and death wildlife face

I watched in awe as the buck put
distance between he and his pursuer
It looked to me like the deer was
sure to escape his fate

But then, for reasons I don’t know
the whitetail suddenly stopped
He turned and stood his ground
as the wolf closed the distance

Soon as chess game was about to be
played out, each hoping to win
In such a confrontation, one usually
wins and one loses its life

The wolf circled and circled as he
tried to catch his breath
While the buck lowered his antlers
with each tine being a sharp point

Then the wolf lay down in the snow
and I tried to figure out his plan
The large buck would be no match
for two wolves, or a pack

But in this situation it was a tossup
as to who would walk away
I sat quietly on my sled and watched
as the buck made the first move

He rushed the wolf, head held low and
I was surprised at the wolf’s speed
The snow was deep but he easily got
out of the way of the deer’s tines

Several times the deer rushed the wolf
making him retreat and pant
The ritual went on for maybe twenty
minutes as if to tell the wolf

“It’s no use, I am strong and won’t be
a meal for you today”
Finally, the wolf turned and walked
away to find an easier meal

© 2002 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


Winter’s First Snow Fall

The long awaited snows finally
came and created a blanket
Embracing mother earth with the
nourishment all things require

The morning’s sunrise took my
breath away as I stood there
Light snows had fallen each day
and each night for a week

But last night’s winds howled
and the snow fell heavily
Only once did I venture out to
the outhouse as I shivered

It had already reached knee
high by 8 o’clock that night
The snows pushed against
the door, as I grumbled

I had to use my boot to kick the
snow away to be able to get in
I took care of business quickly
making my way back inside

Well, at least in the backwoods
we don’t linger in the potty
We get in, get done, get out, and
get back inside our cabin

Once back inside the glow of the
fireplace warms my hands
I smile for a short moment knowing
many homesteaders lived this way

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)

The Intruder

As I sat on the porch of my log
cabin nestled in the woods
With a slow, confident lurch he
walked out into my view

A small creek separated us as he
slowly looked over his domain
The salmon were running and it was
dinner time for the huge grizzly

A heavy coat of fur ensured warmth
as he concentrated on feeding
Massive claws, solid muscle and a
mean temper made him boss

I kept my 45-70 close to me as we
both stared each other over
For a moment our thoughts were one
as we considered the other an intruder

Was it I that was the intruder on his
40 square miles he called home?
Or was he the intruder on the 5 acres
that I held the deed too?

Neither of us made any move or gesture
nor any act to provoke the other
Instead, he disregarded me as a worthy
opponent and went about his business

He casually looked down at the salmon
busily swimming to spawn upstream
And with the flick of his huge paw, he
tossed salmon after salmon out

He held the salmon between his claws
and stripped off the skin, to dine
Savoring the eggs first, before eating
his fill until his belly was full

That afternoon was a time of awakening
within my soul, for I was the intruder
I intruded and scarred his land because
he owns all his eyes surveys

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


Devoted Partner’s

They stood side by side looking
down at me from the ridge
A pair of beautiful timber wolves
as curious of me as I was of them

The larger one nuzzled his mate
and she returned to him kisses
I stood there in my garden as
they looked over their land

For I was the intruder here as I
farmed these 5 acres in Alaska
This was my third fall here in
the Matanuska valley

Each shared affection and the
same playfulness as humans
And I smiled ear to ear because
wolves stay mates for life

They don’t trade up or down or
think blondes have more fun
They don’t seek the material things
or 50% community property

They simply tell the other, look I
am lonely and would adore you
I would be attentive and protective
and spoil you if you accept me

It’s not a hard decision for wolves
because they don’t want to be alone
They thrive on companionship and
cooperation means their survival

It is sad that we as humans refuse to
learn and practice the way of the wolf
Life just seems too short to play games
when it comes to falling in love

© 2004 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)

I Feel At Peace

In this one room log cabin
I live the simplest life
Two oil lamps give off a soft
glow when the sun retreats

This time of year, I walk as
quick as I can to the outhouse
For it isn’t just the coldness
I fear but danged mosquitoes

There’s a beaver pond not too far
if you head down toward the alders
I have sat there for hours and enjoyed
of a diligent family of beavers

I have tended two gardens all summer
one for me, one for the wildlife
I have set aside a portion of my orchard
harvest so that other’s will survive

Yet each winter some have died and it
saddens me because each had a name
A personality and to me they were what
I called neighbors and friends

I have watched with envy the affection
and playfulness of a pair of wolves
The kindness expressed towards each other
could teach us humans many things

© 2004 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


Living Off The Land

The wilderness can be a very harsh
place to create a lifestyle
One with nature, mother earth and
the heaven’s and stars above

At first, the aloneness is frightening
if you have not prepared yourself
I feel it affects women far harsher
than it does for men

The predator’s come searching for food
in the day time and the night
Sniffing and scratching, wondering who
has intruded onto what they call home?

Food must be stored in a cache twelve
feet off the ground or you’ll starve
For the power of a grizzly bear can in
truth rip apart almost anything

A Ham radio is a source of comfort as
homesteader’s chat to one another
A link to air lift in new supplies or if
injured, a way to travel to the hospital

But many would never trade this paradise
this peacefulness for city life
The air is fresh, the water clean and each
day is a new day with Mother Nature

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


My Little Piece Of Paradise

Twenty acres adjacent to a river
in the midst of mountains
For me paradise doesn’t get any
better that what surrounds me

So many people get caught up in
the rat race, rush, rush, rush!
Hurrying, scurrying like mice who
are trying to get nowhere fast

Abundant fishing, hunting, with the
stars so close you can touch them
The nights are spectacular when the
only light at night is the moon

I can canoe up or down stream to
see a distant neighbor
Or just drift along sleepily as I watch
eagles soar and wolf pups play

Life is a box of chocolates my friend
you never know what you’re gonna get
But for me, I feel blessed to be living
in a place where I feel it’s paradise

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)

I Was Working In My Garden

I was pulling up corn stalks
in my garden one morning
Turning the soil for next year’s
planting and as I toiled

I kept getting the feeling that
I was being watched
Row by row, I pulled up the
vegetables that had spoiled

Letting them mulch and return
to the soil as the sun rose high
The fall winds rustled the leaves
and a chill was in the air

It was then that I heard a twig
snap crisply near the fir trees
I scanned the woods unsure of
what it was I might see

Then I saw him, a lone wolf as he
peered back at me intently
I wasn’t afraid of just one wolf, nor
was he afraid of me I felt

He was in the prime of his health
his coat of fur, heavy
He was ready for the harshness of
the coming winter I knew

I went about finishing up the garden
and as I headed for my cabin
He slowly began walking from tree to
tree, as I whispered good-bye

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


The Lone Wolf

As the full moon bathed
the forest in a glow
From my bedroom window
I saw the lone wolf

He turned his head upward
his howl so lonely
I wished a wish that he’d
find a mate for him to love

They say wolves stay with
their mate until death
How sad we as human’s have
not learned such devotion

I built this small cabin in the
territory of this wolf
He tolerates me and the scars
that I have made upon his land

He neither kills my livestock
nor accepts food left out
He is content to roam these woods
covering many miles

Ever searching for his next meal
I long to understand his ways
For he is magical and mystical as
he fades into the shadows

© 2002 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


Just A Small Bite

I sat on my front porch just
outside Bowman, Idaho
I watched the hawk circling
as he watched for prey

This farm covers 100 acres
of wheat and field mice
I smiled to myself wondering
what it must be like to soar

Soaring on the winds gracefully
traveling to different places
Then, I noticed the hawk again
and knew he had spotted lunch

He was flying downward fast as
I watched with fascination
His wings outstretched, his claws
open, ready to grasp

In that split second, he dipped
just a few inches more
When he had caught the mouse
he flew to a nearby fence post

I had never reflected on how few
hawks I have seen till now
Farmers using pesticides have killed
so many, I was glad this one survived

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


When I Lived Off The Land

When I lived off the land
in a log cabin in the woods
It was near a 40 acre lake
with abundant fish

I was awed to be so close
to all Mother Nature offered
Geese, ducks, deer, moose
black bear and grizzly bear

The winter’s would freeze the
lake as solid as stone
But I was too wary to try to
take the chance to cross it

There were quail, beaver and
golden marmots too
It was so peaceful here that a
poet would feel it was heaven

But neighbors sometimes aren’t
good ones, when you live remote
One day when I returned home I
found my cabin full of bullet holes

I knew someone wanted me to
give up my land and move out
I knew arson could be next, so
I was wise and sold out

© 2003 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


I Once Lived In A Log Cabin

In the 1990’s I made the great
escape from city life
I searched for months until I
found 20 acres on a lake

Not a huge one mind you, but
one comfortable enough for me
I planted a huge garden and I
built a dock for my canoe

I lived on a six mile dirt road
and could hear a car motor
Long before it ever reached my
place I waited with excitement

For I had become a hermit for
I was disgusted with the city
All the smog and congestion from
people clawing in a rat race

I hunted, I fished and my poetry
flowed from my pen like a river
Seasons came and went as grey
mingled with my brown hair

© 2002 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


December’s First Snow Fall

This serene and peaceful valley
is now a winter wonderland
Mother Nature embraced with a
heavy blanket of snow

The creek’s still flowing and
it provides what we need
Though it is a slower walk as
I carry a bucket more carefully

The rabbits scurry around in a
hippity-hop care free way
While the white-tail deer seems
a bit more wary of danger

The Grizzly bear leaves his huge
tracks to show he still rules
For even I am a trespasser on the
land he claimed years before

The bald eagle circles effortlessly
with the keenest of eyes
Seeking wildlife that couldn’t survive
winter’s cold and harshness

It’s time to brave the chilling north
winds and stock up more firewood
Because I see the snowflakes are
falling and I can feel a chill

© 2002 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


Winter Has Finally Arrived

The first snow fall arrived
having snowed all night
When I woke, I was taken
by surprise as I smiled

Mother Nature had indeed
blanketed my meadow
It’s so much easier seeing
the tracks of God’s creatures

Snow shoe hares hop near the
creek, deer move in groups
Kicking at the snow to uncover
what grass can be found

The eagle and the red tailed
hawk compete for food
For animals big and small have
to endure harsh winter’s

The lone wolf howls in the distance
calling out to its mate
Someone he loves and nurtures
never will the bond be broken

The grizzly bear passes by my cabin
and I find his tracks and shiver
For this is his land I am living on and
it is I that am the intruder

© 2002 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


My Cousins Walked 2 Miles

I remember many years ago
when my cousins were small
They had to walk to the main
road to catch the bus

They were five kids in all, and
I recall them saying to me
On many a morning, two cougar’s
would follow them at a distance

They never told me that they were
scared, or felt in danger
I can recall their childish laughter
when they would tell me

Probably not to hunt them, but out
of curiosity I would guess
They stayed just inside the tree line
just about every morning

I wonder why my aunt and uncle
never drove them to the main road?
The cougars could have easily have
killed their children I believe

© 2002 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)



My first year living off
the land came to pass
I was quite proud of the
log cabin I had built

This 5 acres of wilderness
was truly a paradise
Whether it was morning
afternoon or evening

I always found something
wonderful to admire
Today, I was working in my
garden, picking corn

Suddenly I heard a red-tailed
hawk screeching in the sky
It was more of a warning call
than one of saying hi

So I looked at the forest for any
signs of danger but saw none
So I carefully looked at the rocky
hillside that was behind me

There she sat, a cougar as she
lay contentedly in the sun
She studied me as intently as she
knew I was studying her

Was I a threat to her I wondered
or someone to co-exist with?
I finished gathering vegetables
cautiously and waved good-bye

© 2002 Raymond Cook (All rights reserved)


Hello My Old Friends!

I sat on my front porch
waiting, watching, listening
I impatiently waited for the
return of snow geese

As the sunny days warmed
I held my hopes high
Looking towards Burke County
the largest pothole refuge

The Lostwood National Wildlife
Refuge is 19,544 acres
It’s the largest government owned
Sanctuary for migratory birds

As the temperatures climbed, so did
my hopes, and then to my delight
Hey flew in by the hundreds, geese
so graceful and pretty to watch

I am amazed that one lead goose
will lead all the other’s here
He knows the route well, where all
the food and water stops are

I ran to my truck, for I knew where
they were to soon call home
I wanted to join all the others and
get my share of photographs

My heart was filled with contentment
a feeling that I’ve missed
For this is my land too and we both
share a kindred spirit for this place

I slept so peaceful that night in spite
of an old military injury
Pain takes away my smile sometimes
but the geese give it back to me

©2003 Raymond Cook (All Rights Reserved)


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